Q and A: Girls hockey has it sights set on a third straight conference titleFarmington Independent sports editor Matt Steichen talks with girls hockey coach Jon Holmes about his team's outlook this season.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
You lose just three players from last year’s 20-7 team, but they’re a very important three players in forwards Krystal Baumann, Hannah Alexander and Emily Severson. How does the absence of those three affect your overall style of play? Will you play a more defensive-minded game or does your strategy not change that much based on personnel?
Defense is always a priority for any team. This year we have pledged to each other as players and coaches that we will take pride in how we take care of our defensive zone. There are many ways to go about creating a philosophy on how to win games. This year we will start off by trying to keep our opponents away from the good percentage shooting zones and clearing rebounds and players from this area at all costs. If we can accomplish this we will hopefully minimize the number of goals they put up on the scoreboard and then whatever number we put up on our side of the scoreboard will be enough to take the “W”.
How do you plan on making up for all those lost goals on the offensive end?
We lost a lot of points from graduation. Although this is an obstacle to overcome I believe we have the right personnel to gradually fill the need. As the year progresses we will come to grips with having a more spread out/balanced approach to scoring. This will help us as we head deeper into the season and approach playoffs by having a team that relies on everyone executing their role and showing up ready for every game. This year’s team also has a very unique chemistry and they work really well with each other on and off the ice. This will only benefit us as the year progresses.
Now your experience resides on the defensive end where you have seniors Katie Burgess, Molly Friedlund and Betsy Anderson. What do those three bring to the team?
They bring a combined 16 years of varsity experience. They know what has to be done and how we have to work hard every day in practice and every game we have to come ready. They do a great job of leading on and off the ice in these aspects. With a change in early season philosophy by emphasizing d-zone this core also helps us out by us playing to our strengths.
They play in front of an experienced goaltender in Jessica Erchul. Talk a bit about what it means to the team to have her back in front of the net.
Jessica has had a long and storied career here. She has taken over some team records and is close on many others. She remains calm and does a fantastic job in all situations. It definitely helps the team out by having such a veteran back in the nets. Everyone makes mistakes in a hockey game and Erchul does a phenomenal job of making those blunders blow away from recent memory by making tough saves look easy.
The younger teams in the program have had some success in recent years. Are there some players who may be ready to make an impact on the varsity level this season?
We will look at some new faces this year. We continue to be a young team. For the past three years we have graduated only two, one and three seniors, respectively. This year we have four seniors and only two juniors. So it is hard to believe …but once again for four years in a row we are a young team! This means that we will look to those young but experienced players more and more as well as welcoming some newcomers who will have to learn fast that we expect a lot out of all the players on our team no matter what the number is in their grade column.
Lakeville North and Lakeville South have stood in your way in Section 1AA the last few years. Are those two programs returning a lot of players or is there going to be some turnover on those rosters? Are you expecting these two to once again be your top section competition?
Both Lakeville teams will once again be the favorites in the section. They graduated a few key players, just like us, but they continue to keep bringing in reinforcements, just like us. It will make for an interesting post season run!
You’re now two-time defending Missota Conference champions. Is No. 3 a big goal for this team? And who do you expect to be your top competition in the league?
No. 3 is definitely a goal. We will have to work harder than ever to get it. Both Chaska/Chanhassen and Shakopee will be extremely tough this year. In fact, I would even call them the favorites. Red Wing will also throw their team into the mix and so every game night in and night out will be a battle for us to try and attain the three-peat.
If things fall into place, what do you think this team can accomplish? What are your goals?
We have not sat down as a team yet to set our specific goals. We will do this sometime in the next week or so. But from a coaching standpoint I am confident that this is a team that not only will set realistic goals but will also work to accomplish them to the best of our capabilities.